Lost in the shuffle of Friday’s offensive explosion in Baltimore was this line: Matt Stairs: 0-4, 2 strikeouts and 5 runners left on base hitting in the #5 hole. The coup-de-grace for me was the inexplicable bases-loaded strikeout he had in the 4th, letting a perfect down-the-middle fastball pass right by him to end the inning.
That at-bat disgusted me. It isn’t the first time we’ve seen Stairs let a pitch go by that he clearly was guessing otherwise on, and in the end of course the at bat didn’t matter, but its indicative of where he is now as a hitter. On fastball counts, he’s guessing otherwise and letting pitches go by without even an offering in high-leverage situations. But for me, if you have 2 strikes you’re not trying to hit home runs; you’re trying to put the ball in play. It seems to me that his skills as a hitter have declined to the point where he’s depending more on guess work than his former hitting prowness to succeed at the plate.
Meanwhile, every other player in the lineup was mashing Baltimore pitching last night (well, except for Adam LaRoche, but that’s a different contract, a different defensive player, and a different story). Our 7-8-9 hitters were 8-13 (eight hits out of the bottom three!).
I think its time to end the experiment. For the season (as of 5/20) Stairs is 2 for 26 with no extra base hits. He has a NEGATIVE OPS+, meaning that he’s hitting roughly 100% worse than an average major league player. He has no defensive value and can’t pinch run when needed. I think we need to bring up someone else from AAA.
Michael Aubrey didn’t have the worst numbers the last time he played in the majors (Baltimore in 2009), is also a lefty, can play first base if needed and (if you believe his profile’d height/weight of 6’0″ 190lbs) should be able to run the bases if needed. We have a 40-man spot open with the DFA of Broderick and we could make this move immediately as a like-for-like replacement for Stairs. If you didn’t want to add a guy to the roster, you could also just call up Chris Marrero, who doesn’t quite have Aubrey’s power but is hitting consistently in AAA and had 18 homers in AA last year. Marrero could be a righty bat off the bench coupled with Ankiel’s lefty bat as a 4th outfielder/bat off the bench as well.
Either way, I think its time to make a change.